Specialty grocery stores doing well despite increased competition

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by Justin Corr

NWCN.com

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 3:45 PM

BOISE -- If you're looking to buy specialty groceries in Boise, you have some options. Natural Grocers, Huckleberry's, and Whole Foods all opened recently, and other similar chain stores could be on the way. But does this mean the end for local grocers? It doesn't look that way right now.

Some people were worried that when Whole Foods and those other stores opened up, it might cut into the profits of the 40-year-old Boise Co-Op. It did.

"We saw a little bit of a dip and that's what generally happens when competition comes in," said Matt Fuxan, fresh foods manager at the Co-Op (one of the city's oldest specialty and organic grocers).

Fuxan says they absolutely took a hit, but they're already rebounding and memberships are up.

Whole Foods managers say they've been steadily busy since opening in November and are still seeing a lot of first-time customers. How is all this possible? Managers of both stores say natural and specialty groceries might just be an untapped, or undertapped market that competition is helping grow.

"More players in natural foods is really a great thing for the entire community," said Fuxan. "Because it expands peoples' horizons as far as what's available out there for natural and organic foods, and that's ultimately going to help all businesses."

And the number of players could be increasing. Documents from the city of Boise show the floor plans of a development set to go in at Capitol Boulevard and Front Street, and they look a lot like some sort of grocery store. Specialty grocer Trader Joe's was granted the authority to do business in Idaho last year.

"If Trader Joe's shows up, great," says Fuxan. "We're going to do our thing, and you do your thing, and we're going to be just fine."

Of course, the Co-Op and Whole Foods likely wouldn't tell us, even if profits were tanking. Right now, it seems like the rising tide will lift all boats. But only time will tell.

It seems like the demand is here in Boise for Trader Joe's to open up a shop in the capital city. A Facebook page dedicated to bringing them to the City of Trees has more than 5,000 likes.

 

 

 

 

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